A Grand Vegassy Zion Bend Road Trip

One thing I strongly recommend every person do at some point in their life is take a quality road trip with friends. By quality, I mean go big. In fact, I’ll make that a life tip.

Life Tip #41: At some point in your life, take a quality road trip with friends.

Last year, Dave and I took a quality road trip. It was us, five other friends, and a rented RV.

The short version:

  • April 4, 2015: San Diego to Las Vegas to retrieve the RV
  • April 4, 2015: Las Vegas to RV park at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
  • April 5, 2015: South Rim to another RV park on the South Rim
  • April 6, 2015: South Rim to RV park at Horseshoe Bend
  • April 7, 2015: Horseshoe Bend to RV park (with a swimming pool!) at Zion National Park
  • April 8, 2015: Zion to drop off the RV and party at Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas
  • April 9, 2015: The pool at the Hard Rock to San Diego

The long version:

Once upon a time, when Lee’s hair was long and Dave wore glasses, a friend’s visit from London inspired one of the most memorable trips of the couple’s young lives. There would be seven travelers: Lee and Dave; their friend, M; another San Diegan couple, C and T; and a London couple, J and MJ. The planning was extensive. There was significant back-and-forth over mode of transportation, destinations, and activities. What might have been a caravan to backpack around the Grand Canyon became an RV adventure through the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Zion National Park, and a party, Craps, and pool-filled conclusion in Vegas.

Life Tip #42: In instances of collaboration, be excited and be open-minded.  

After a sleepy, long drive to Vegas, Lee and Dave picked up J and MJ from the airport and went to meet up with M, C, and T for the RV rental. It was already late afternoon, and they were due for their first leg of the trip at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon that night.

After attempting to figure out the logistics of the sleeping situation in an RV built to sleep seven but realistically only inhabitable for four adults, a small child, and two puppies, the group was off to the supermarket. Two shopping carts overflowed with massive amounts of beer, bacon, hotdogs, produce, and gluten free items for MJ. And finally, they were off, Dave in the driver’s seat, Lee by his side.

After an already long day, the drive stretched on, so the others decided it was time to cook snacks. It wasn’t until the group was forced to pull over and extinguish the flaming cast iron skillet of bacon that they realized exactly how inexperienced in RV travel every passenger truly was.

They finally made it safely to Grand Canyon Camper Village. They drank. They ate. They slept with poor M taking the floor and with MJ and J cramped in the converted dining table. The other couples snaked the only truly accommodating beds. The following morning, after coffee, breakfast, and checking out of the campsite, they went to check out their first view point.

The Canyon truly was a sight to behold. There can’t possibly be names given to all of the colors found in nature.

After taking in the sites, they decided to get settled into Campground #2 before day’s end. At Mather Campground, C and T set up a tent, while M gathered firewood and the others explored. When the sun began to hang low in the sky, the group gathered for a hike. They made it to the Canyon’s edge to bask in the stunning glow of the sun setting. They walked back toward camp in the dark and enjoyed a creative dinner of hot dogs and other flame-roasted foods by the fire.

They awoke in the dark the next morning to bookend their Grand Canyon sunset with a sunrise. It was freezing cold, and the coffee shop had yet to open, but enjoy the sunrise, they did.

The journey toward Horseshoe Bend wasn’t long, but they opted for length, stopping at several viewpoints along the way before reaching their destination.

Life Tip #43 : Stop at viewpoints. They are there for a reason.

Already tired of hot dogs, Dave, Lee, and T decided to go on an adventure. They left their friends behind at Page-Lake Powell Campground and took off toward hamburgers. On their walk into town, they happened upon a street comprised of churches of every religion and denomination that any of the three had ever heard. It was an odd suburb and a somewhat unsettling neighborhood, but they found a burger joint and indulged greedily before heading back to camp.

They made it just in time to leave camp and see the Horseshoe. The wind was strong, and the sand beat harshly against their faces as they crossed the distance from the parking lot toward their destination. Most of the site’s visitors were walking in the opposite direction, shielding their faces behind their coats. By the time the friends reached the Horseshoe, they were able to bask in the beauty of it all in peaceful, albeit sandy, solitude.

The seven left early the next day. They were due to cross state lines and explore Zion. Just driving through the park elicited a feeling of delight. It was beautiful. They pulled over to the side of the road for a quick photo sesh on the smooth, tan stone.

At the Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground, the crew grew too excited to settle down. They found their campsite and then immediately left to enjoy a hike. They didn’t have the necessary supplies or daylight to enjoy the Narrows, but off they went toward Emerald Pools, continuing as far as possible, and then finding other areas to explore until they got their fill for the day.

They enjoyed the Jacuzzi at the campground and took the best showers of their trip thus far. Dave and Lee were shoved into the tent after having slept the previous three nights on the nicest bed in the RV. They woke early and made everyone else wake up as well. They wanted to squeeze in one more hike before heading back to Vegas, which they did. And again, it was stunning.

After dropping off the RV in Vegas and finding their way to Hard Rock, the group dispersed for showers and a few moments of alone time in their own respective rooms. Surprisingly enough, seven people in a smaller than expected RV wasn’t nearly as taxing as one might expect. They all met up for dinner and then made their way to the strip, where Dave would prove to be a shark in Craps. Very little sleep was had that night, so the journey to the pool the following morning was slow. They lazily absorbed the sun and what remained of their epic vacation before hitting the road. The following day would be Friday, a workday.

It’s not a true trip without one mishap, right? The SD card in Lee’s phone was corrupt, and Dave and Lee lost all of their pictures. On the upside, this mishap inspired the purchase of a Sony A6000, which has since given the couple thousands of frame-worthy photos.

Life Tip #44: Test run your technology before choosing to rely on it.


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